Weekly Brief – What’s In a Name


It’s strange that the latest Daily Post Weekly Challenge focused on names.  I just deleted a draft post about this subject, specifically about my name, Barbara.  I never cared much for my name.  It’s rather bland, and the nicknames aren’t particularly flattering.  You have Barb, and that reminds me of barbed wire. Then there’s Barbie, which just sets me up for self-esteem and body-image issues.  Babs leaves me babbling or babyish.  I must not be alone in my distaste for the name because rarely will you run into any Barbara’s below the age of forty. According to the Social Security Administration, the last time it made the top five baby names list was in 1951. Apparently though it was popular enough prior to the fifties to hold onto sixth place in a most-popular names from 1913-2012 list.  There’s even an epitaph to my name at the Nameberry blog called Vanishing Names: So Long, Susan; Bye Bye, Barbara.

I have three sisters, and one hit the name jackpot.  Her name is so unique and lovely, that to even mention it in this blog, would reveal who she is. So for her privacy, I will remain quiet about her name. But oh, I was always envious of her name. To have a name like hers, what I would have done! I’d be an internationally famed writer of course, traveling the world and giving speeches that would rock the core of every listener.

For the writers among you, how do you select your characters’ names?  For my in-progress (ever and always in-progress) novel, I spent a day researching each of my primary characters’ names.  I wanted my surnames to mean something and their first names to meld with the surname to match each characters’ needs and desires.  I am curious, do all writers do this? Or was this yet another way to avoid writing?

How do you select your characters’ names?

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About Barbara Rath

Enjoy reading, writing, hiking, hangin' with family, friends and my dogs, watching soccer (Go Breakers), baseball, football. Favorite foods are coffee, chocolate, and artichokes. Always thinking of new stuff to do and then not doing it.
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9 Responses to Weekly Brief – What’s In a Name

  1. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge: Power of Names | Cancer Isn't Pink

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  3. litadoolan says:

    Funny how sisters can be gifted very different names especially when there is a mix of traditional like Clare and newish like India. I guess passage of time is one reason.

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for your comment. I think passage of time and the loss of loved ones has a major influence on the names we give our children. By the way, I like both Clare and India for names; both evoke different fond memories. Thanks again for visiting my site and taking the time to comment!

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  5. Now I’m curious about your sister’s name. I’m very particular about naming characters in my stories, too. I tend to think of the sounds of names and check how well they gel with the characters’ personalities. On one occasion I remember asking a few people what traits they associated with certain names, to see how well they fit in the plot.

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for your comment. I like your idea of getting feedback from people regarding the name. While I might think its a great name, the general population might have a different reaction to it. I appreciate your visiting my site and sharing this tip.

  6. Interesting that you ask about finding the names of your fictionnal characters. When I was finished with my post I thought that another one could have been about this aspect of names too. This is an important part of writing. For me either the names jump to my mind or I heard them somewhere. Sometimes, however, I need to think more about the right names to fit the story.

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is funny how some of the names are in my mind right from the beginning. My current main character’s name is Marti, and it always has been. It’s the last names that I put a little effort into. I try to think of what nationality the person is, whether its a married name or family name, and how the name fits the character’s inner story. I probably overdo it, but I enjoy the research. Plus its another great way to avoiding the hard work of writing. Thanks again for visiting my site.

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